Heinz sale - unions seeking summit

Jenny Formby, a national officer for UNITE
Jenny Formby, a national officer for UNITE

THE union representing the vast majority of Kitt Green’s production workers reacted instantly to the surprise sale.

Unite (formerly TGWU) shop stewards from the massive Kitt Green plant - often referred to as the “jewel in the crown” of the company’s European operations – were immediately in contact with the headquarters of the investor behind the shock deal to try and arrange a summit to seek guarantees about the future of the Wigan jobs.

They have also been in touch with senior management to help broker a meeting with Warren Buffett.

Unite has 1,200 members at Kitt Green and more than 3,000 at Heinz plants across the UK.

National officer Jennie Formby said: “While we recognise the commitment given by Berkshire Hathaway that it will be ‘business as usual’ at Heinz, the Unite members who work for the company at Kitt Green and around the country in the UK will want more detailed assurances that their jobs and sites will remain secure.

“Unite will be seeking an early meeting with senior management to allow us to explore in greater detail what impact, if any, this acquisition will have for the UK business.”

A retired Kitt Green union official, who didn’t want to be named, said: “I wouldn’t see this necessarily as bad news.

“The workforce have lost confidence in the management in recent years which is one of the reasons that the factory saw the first serious industrial action for decades a little while ago.

“This man is known for the golden touch and being able to spot an opportunity.

“He obviously feels that there is plenty of growth left in Heinz. Kitt Green is known for its excellence and reliability and I am sure he will know about that.”